Thursday, July 19, 2018

A scary hideout

Panting for breath, she ran helter-skelter with a stalker in hot pursuit. Wishing to hide quickly, she entered into one of cluster of dilapidated houses through a broken door. There was a stench from the dust and cobwebs inside. Avoiding the   rickety wooden staircase, she hid in a dark room at the rear. Her heart froze in fear when she heard faint movements upstairs followed by a glass breaking and  stick falling.
Soon the heavy stalker charged in shouting, “You slut, you are trapped,” and ran up the stairs. Alas, one of the wooden planks of the wobbly staircase gave way and the man fell down with a thud. Hit by an edge of a box, he lay inert. She saw in shock the crimson pool around his head. Her heart skipped a beat when a black cat jumped near her leg. She quickly ran out.
“Don’t you know it is haunted and none enters?” queried an old man outside. Crossing her chest with her hands, she breathed free and walked gratefully.(172)

This post is written for the 174th picture prompt in Friday Fiction for Aspiring Writers. The challenge is to write a piece of fiction within 100-175 words based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting this challenge.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The uninvited intruder

“Lochi, make sure you have taken the inhaler just in case you need it,” Lalita shouted to her eight year old daughter from the living room. As an afterthought she added, “Take an extra dress too for any emergency.”
 “I have it, Ma, including the dress in my bag. I am done with the packing.”
“Have you taken tooth brush, paste, comb and such things,” asked a concerned Lalita.
“Ma, I am not going on a long trip. Just one night for a sleepover with my friends. Please do not fret yourself,”
“I know, but this is the first time you are going to spend a night away from me. Get ready. Your friend will be here presently to pick you. It is nearing 8.30pm”
“Ma, can you manage alone? If you wish, I would rather not go.”
“No, I am absolutely fine. Go and enjoy,” said Lalita in a comforting tone.
There were loud beeps from car horn. Lochi and Lalita hurried to the gate. Lochi hugged her mom before boarding the car. Lalita continued to stand at the gate and watched the fading red lights till the car turned at the end of the road.
She slowly walked back to her house. As she turned the key to the door, she noticed a small piece of self-adhesive paper stuck on the door. Wondering who could have done it, she pulled the paper and read a small note scribbled on it.
I know your daughter is away for the night and you are alone. I would be there with you the whole night and give you company. Fear not, I will be kind to you. I will always be behind you.  Do not bother about opening the door. I can find my way in.
Lalita quickly turned round and saw no one. The road was empty and it started drizzling A stray dog barked somewhere in the dark night. She quickly went in and shut the door tight. Shaken with fear and wondering how one could enter the locked house with grilled windows, she switched on the lights in all rooms and searched to see no one was there. She heard a dog bark incessantly not far from the house. With heart pounding as if it would burst, she darted to her room and closed it making sure the door is properly bolted. She moved towards the window and peeped outside only to find no one except that the drizzle has become a steady rain. To make things worse, there were incessant lightening followed by ear splitting thunders. Clutching at her heart, she started reciting her favourite god’s name. She pulled a table with a chair on it and kept it across the door. Wondering how the guy knew that she would be alone, she shuddered at the thought of what could happen to her if he were to come in. She kept awake for long till she dozed off to sleep.
With a startle she woke up when she heard the long bell. The day was bright already. She rushed to the door and called out. “Who is it?”.
“Amma, Lochi here. How long am I to ring the bell?” she said as she came in. On seeing mom, she asked, “What happened to you? You look terrified. I suspected this would happen and that is why I left a note assuring you that God is behind you. Did you not read the note?”
“My god, are you the one that stuck the note on the door? You should have told me, silly girl. I spent the whole night in total fear”
“Did you not see behind the note? Lochi asked innocently.
Lalita turned the crumpled note to see, “Your God “. She read  the contents again and mumbled to herself that everything now fell into their place.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Jagan’s date with Jampa

 It was quite hot and sultry that Sunday afternoon and there were only speeding cars and trucks on the highway. Jagan was proceeding to Chengalpattu to meet Jampa at 4pm at her home at the behest of his parents who have shortlisted her. It was past 3pm and he looked out to see the SRM campus at Kattangulatthur.He relaxed at the comforting thought he had enough time to reach the destination. The song Rangapura Vihara from the YouTube by Harish Shivaramakrishnan in his sonorous voice with guitar and keys as accompaniments was mesmerizing. He slightly adjusted the temperature as he felt cold.
It was then he saw a young woman, in the barren stretch of the road that had no trees, frantically signaling him for a lift. Dressed in a dark pant  and maroon top she was slim and around 25. He stopped the car and slightly lowered the window pane.
“Sorry to trouble you. Can you kindly drop me near Singaperumal koil? It is very hot here and possibly this is no bus stop,” she spoke in impeccable English with a convent drawl.
Chivalrous by nature, he readily opened the front door. There was a gentle fragrance of Chanel No5 as she took her seat. While driving he glanced sideways at her when she was searching something from her handbag. She looked attractive with high cheek bone and long eyelashes. She turned to see him looking at her surreptitiously and smiled at him.
“I am am meeting a friend and have been delayed quite a bit waiting for the bus. You really saved the day. Let me call her to tell her  I am on my way. She will be relieved,” she said softly. The proximity of a beautiful woman, the sweet scent and the pleasing music was a heady combo.
Jagan was silent presumably lost in thoughts how Jampa would look like and whether she would be as charming as the one sitting by his side. The woman was chattering nonstop on her mobile. After a few minutes of driving in silence, he stopped the car
“We have reached Singaperumal koil,” Jagan said.
She got down from the car and after thanking him, she left in a hurry saying she was terribly late without telling even her name. Selfish woman, he thought as he drove speedily towards Chengalpattu.
Hardly after a couple of kilometres from Singaperumal koil, he saw two policemen by the side of a blue jeep waving their hands at him to stop the car. They came near the car and one of them a portly figure gruffly told him. “Can I see your license?”. He turned the pages of the license for a couple of minutes
“We got information from a source that some drugs are being taken in this car. Please step down while we check inside the vehicle. Give me your mobile and the keys,” he said. Turning to other guy he said,” Palani, go through the car like a sieve quickly. It could be ganja, cocaine or whatever.”
The luggage compartment was opened and checked what seemed thoroughly and finding none he started searching inside the car at the rear seats and finally at the glove compartments and beneath the door mats. He drew blank. The stout man shouted at Palani,” It must be there planted in some corner. Check again carefully.” Palani opened the left door where the lady was sitting and gave a shriek. “It is here, Sir and handed over a small bundle concealed in a Venkateswara sweet stall bag. The bundle revealed some whitish substance.
Jagan was stunned at the discovery and pleaded total ignorance of how it could be there. “I am a senior IT engineer in a big IT company and proceeding to see a lady for matrimony at Chengalpattu at 4pm. I promise, sir, I am totally innocent. The only mistake I did was to give a lift to a young woman of about 25 years up to Singaperumal koil. She seemed decent and educated. I do not have any information about her including her name.”
“Don't lie. I am accustomed to hear such sob stories when they get caught. Palani, close the car and keep the keys. We will take him in the jeep to the police station and let him talk to the Inspector. My bladder is full. I will relieve myself and come,” he said with some finality.
When Jagan looked pathetically at Palani, he signaled him to come near. “Do you have any cash? If you can pay 10k to him, I can try to get you out of this mess because you are going to see a girl.”
Jagan quickly thought over the sequence of events like his giving a lift to unknown woman, getting caught with drugs, and not knowing even basic details of the woman. He had no credible answer except repeated denial. This would surely shock his parents and Jampa’s family. After some haggling, Palani agreed upon 7k and whispered to the stout man. They took the money, retained the packet and allowed him to leave after admonition that he would be jailed if caught next time.
He reached Jampa’s place at 4.30pm and they were intrigued to see him in a sweaty shirt and disheveled state. He initially said he was held up due to breakdown of car for the delay and his untidy condition. When he came to know that Jampa’s dad was a DSP in police, he made a clean breast of the happening.
“I appreciate your frankness. I am aware of such a racket going on. What is planted as a white powder is no drug but used for rangoli. I have already put some decoys to catch them. Let us now turn to Jampa who is waiting eagerly to meet you,” he said.
He called “Jampa, take him first to your room for a wash. He needs to be presentable before the girl whom he has come to meet,” amid peals of laughter from others present.
That Jagan found Jampa far more bewitching than the crook who wangled a lift, is a happy titbit.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Happy denouement

 “I have lot of respect for you both but please appreciate it is my life. I will alone choose my partner as and when I come across someone I like. In spite of my specific request, I am hurt that you both chose to ignore my wish, “ Menaka said. She was furious when her dad informed her over tea about one Eswar coming to meet her at a restaurant in the weekend.
 “Menu, I am fully aware of your views on this matter. I happened to meet an old friend of mine after a very long time and exchanged the happenings during the intervening years. When he came to know about you, he suggested about his son Eswar for you. I told him that you are totally averse to arranged marriages and that I can do little in the matter,” said her dad.
“Then why did you agree for my meeting him at a restaurant this Sunday?”
“I could not bluntly refuse when he made the suggestion that you both meet outside at a restaurant over a breakfast instead of at home traditionally. I would not compel you to marry him if you do not wish to. But I am impressed with Eswar’s credentials and would leave it to you to decide after meeting him. I was also told that he is a tall guy with curly hair and athletic build. Please meet him for my sake. Here is his profile. I have no photo of his readily but he will be in jeans and a light blue T shirt” said her dad.
“Which restaurant and at what time? I will just walk out if he keeps me waiting,” asked Menaka with some asperity in her voice.
“Park view,8am.”
After a glance at the profile, she knew why her dad fell for the guy. Eswar met all the requirements that parents of any bride would look for. Highly qualified, he was already holding a middle level position in a multinational bank. He belonged to a decent and affluent family with a large house in a gated community in the suburb. He had a good flat within the city and a medium sized car.
Menaka was at the restaurant sharp at 8 am but the guy was not to been. She waited for ten minutes and was upset with the guy still missing. She had half a mind to leave the place but decided to wait for five more minutes for her dad’s sake. As she was browsing her Facebook, she heard someone loudly coughing by her side. She turned with a startle to see a stodgy guy in blue T shirt of medium height with a receding hairline.
 “Menaka. I believe. I am Eswar,” he said taking her hand and shaking a trifle longer than usual with a tight clasp. The absence of a prefix to her name and the rough handshake put her off instantly. She was speculating at the uncouth stout guy before her to the favourable description given by dad. After initial introduction, he walked to a corner table and settled comfortably leaving her to pull a chair to sit. To make matters worse, the guy ordered idly, masala dosa and coffee without asking her what she would prefer. He was too loud for her comfort and seemed restless drumming the table with his fingers making a few turn their heads.
He then embarked on what seemed to be a long rant and from the word go started telling her what he expected of his wife to be elaborating on his likes and dislikes. He was neither chivalrous to enquire first about her, her interests, her dreams and such like nor gave her an opportunity to talk He kept talking about himself interspersed repeatedly with the phrases’ I hope you follow’ and ’I hope you understand.
The last straw was when he said, “Let me make it very clear at the outset that I am very fond of my mother and would not like her to be unhappy on any account because of my wife whoever she that clear?”
Menaka developed an instant dislike for him and for his boorish behaviour. She did not talk much. At the end when he asked her whether she had anything to ask of him, she replied in the negative and stood up. Thinking possibly, he made a favourable impression on her, he made a parting remark “You are very quiet. I like you for this reason. I have an aversion for women who talk much.” Without reacting but fuming within, Menaka walked towards the gate.
When she met her eager parents, she did not elaborate but made known her total dislike for him and requested them not to proceed further in the matter. They were disappointed and felt Menaka was being foolish with preconceived notions.
That evening as Menaka readied herself to leave for gym, her dad asked her, “Can you drop me at my friend’s place. He has come to the flat for a couple of days. You need not come inside. I will take an Ola on my way back.” She readily agreed.
When she drew the car to a stop opposite the flat, surprisingly dad’s friend was standing there talking to a neighbour. On seeing them, he was very happy and invited them both inside. Her dad said “Menaka is late for her gym. She will not come. I have come to spend some time with you.”
“No, I would not allow her to go without stepping in. I know she met Eswar this morning. I do not know what they decided. Whatever their decision, I do not care. She must pay me a visit,” he pleaded with her dad.
When her dad looked at her unsure of what she would do, she got down and said “OK I will come in for five minutes. Come on.”
As they settled down on sofa, uncle said, “I am very pleased that you both have come. Menaka, you do not have to speak anything about the meeting.” At that time a tall handsome and muscular guy came from one of the rooms hearing the voices.
“Eswar, see who have come,” said uncle
With a bewildered look she gazed at the young man opposite her for a while and told her father, “Dad, this is not the person whom I met this morning. Someone else short and stodgy in blue T shirt introduced himself as Eswar and was talking to me.”
Uncle turned to the young man, “What is happening, Eswar? Did you not meet her this morning as agreed upon? This is Menaka whom you were to meet. Who is the chap who impersonated you?”
“Appa, I will presently explain everything. Meanwhile, can I have a word with Menaka in private?” he said and turning to a surprised Menaka asked her to give him a few minutes. There was a confused look on the faces of both fathers when both young things went to the adjoining room.
“Sorry. Menaka, I played a dirty trick on you. Frankly I do not believe in arranged marriages. Dad was telling me you too have the same opinion. When he insisted that I meet you. I could not refuse him. But I wished to get out of this without displeasing him. I asked a friend of mine to meet you as Eswar with instruction to behave in such a disgusting manner that you would reject outright. I am sure you must be hating him?” he said patting both his cheeks with his hands symbolically for an apology.
Menaka could not contain her laughter at his theatrics but was gawking at him greatly impressed with his easy going manner, frank disposition and handsome look. He reminded her of Gregory Peck in his younger days.
“You are not talking? After seeing you I now realize I was a fool to have missed meeting in the morning such a charming and accomplished lady. How about meeting tomorrow evening at 6pm at the same place? I wish to impress you to win your nod” he said with a big chuckle.
Menaka equally moonstruck and replied with a bashful smile, “Why not, I will surely be there? Hopefully you will buy me dinner this time.”
“Oh. oh, did that bloke make you pay for the breakfast?”
“It is ok. I did a wise thing to come inside your home when your dad asked,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes
“I have one more request. Can we go to the hall hand in hand to make our fathers happy?” Eswar asked
With a loud ‘chee, chee’ in response, she grasped his proffered hand as they both stepped out rubbing shoulders with beaming faces.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

A spontaneous decision

A topical story for the cricket season
Mohanti was the last recognized batsman at the crease. It was the final of an international one-day series with a formidable team and with the series evenly poised at 2-2 each. He was facing the last ball of the 50th over. A sixer was needed to win the match. It was a do or die situation. He was the cynosure of millions of eyes on the ground and before TVs. His future depended on what he did today. The stadium was packed to the full. There was an eerie silence all around. The suspense was punishing with the commentators going silent for a while with their fingers crossed. As the bowler was walking back to the starting point, there was a flash of his life for Mohanti from his child hood days like a film on a screen.
The couple in their thirties with their two children were the last to get down from the train that terminated at Khurda Road. The compartment had become empty. The few passengers had left and the platform was almost empty. The husband and wife took their small luggage in one hand and held the children on the other. Just as they were moving away from the train, they heard a wail of a baby. They both stopped abruptly wondering where from the cry had come from. The shrill cry from a new born babe came again from within the dark compartment. The man rushed in to see a new born baby of hardly ten days old lying on a rag under a seat. It was clear to him that it was abandoned. The wife too who had followed him looked around. There was not a soul visible.
Handing over the crying baby to his wife, the man said, “Pacify the baby. We cannot be cruel to leave the baby here and go away. We will take it and leave it at the police outpost in the station.”
The moment she took the baby in her hands, it stopped crying and broke into an innocent smile. It was cute looking baby boy. Resting the baby on her shoulder, she turned to her husband and said, “Why not we keep this baby ourselves? If we leave it with police, they will surely hand this over to an orphanage. I don’t wish this gift of God should go there.”
The husband meekly pointed out that they were already leading a hand to mouth life and that addition of one more member would strain their tiny budget. She put her foot down telling emphatically that they could share whatever they had amongst the five and that the baby should be retained by them. That settled the issue. The baby boy grew up as a member of their family. They bestowed the same affection and care as they gave to the other two children.
Mohanti looked at the bowler running menacingly towards him to bowl the last ball. The entire crowd stood up on their feet in high anticipation. His mind was blank to the noisy surroundings and his eyes were focused at the bowler’s arm. Mohanti hit the ball with all the strength at his command and presto the ball soared high and travelled across the vast ground to hit the roof of the pavilion with a thud. There was a deafening uproar from the hysterical crowd even as his team mates came running to lift him on their shoulders. His country had won with a nail biting finish. As he walked back to the pavilion with other players forming line on both sides, the applause from the stands was resounding.
Declared the man of the match, one of the foreign commentators approached him with a mike on hand and said, “This is a memorable occasion in your cricket career that has just started. You have been instrumental in bringing the trophy to your country. I think you have cemented your place in the team. You will soon be showered with riches and goodies in plenty. What would you like to say on this momentous occasion? To whom would you ascribe this outstanding feat?”
Even as he wiped the flowing tears from his eyes, Mohanti replied without a moment’s hesitation, “I dedicate this achievement wholly to my loving parents. They are not here but must be watching TV at our house in a small town in Odisha. My thoughts go back very long. Twenty-three years ago, they took a spontaneous decision at a railway station that changed the course of my life. I owe everything to them today, tomorrow and forever.”
There was a puzzled and curious look on the faces of the commentator and the millions who heard Mohanti even as he continued, “The snap decision they took that day transformed me from an abandoned orphan baby in a dingy compartment to be their loving son and a cricketer.”

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A day for double celebration

  “I am Deepa studying in class six and wish to narrate an incident on Mother’s Day.
It was around 7pm one day and my dad was due anytime. I was cleaning vessels to help my mom who was giving finishing touches to the dinner she had cooked. We wished to finish the kitchen work before he came. She gets stressed around this time though not without a reason. My dad is an alcoholic, violent when drunk as he is always in the evenings and beats my mother blue for no reason. He would let out on her all his frustrations suffered outside the home during the day and leave her on the floor bruised all over the body mouthing profanities nonstop. He would gulp his food laid on the table like a glutton and spread himself on the couch to fall asleep and snore loudly. It was a disgusting daily ritual that we hated but could do little to avoid. To my pleadings to my mother that we move away from him, her constant refrain was, “He is a good man when sober. He doesn’t know what he is doing when intoxicated.”
I heard the sound of his vehicle and soon he was banging the door impatiently even as mom hurried to open. I hid myself behind the door of the kitchen afraid of his mad fury. I hated him intensely.
I heard a hard slap followed by his shouting,” You slut, why do you keep me standing outside. Didn’t you hear the loud knocks on the door? Are you deaf or what?”
“Could you not wait for a few moments. I was in the kitchen making rasam(soup) and waiting for it to froth,” mom was pleading in defense with her hand on her burning cheek. She knew he was fully drunk and was in dread of his rage.
“How dare you backchat today?” he shouted even as he pulled out his belt and mercilessly lashed at her. She cringed in pain and was begging him to stop hurting her. He kicked her finally before he tottered to the sofa.
​​I waited for him to doze off and then tiptoed towards mother. She was sobbing more hurt by his inhuman behaviour than pain. I caressed her and requested her to come to her bedroom.
“He has fallen asleep without taking his dinner. You go to your room. I will join you soon. Do not worry. This is no new thing,” my mom whispered.
“Don’t you have self-respect? Why do you demean yourself? Who cares whether he eats or not?” I said in anger.
 She patted my cheeks with a trace of smile and signalled me to go to my room. I could not sleep for a long time thinking how this harsh routine could be changed. It was my mother’s birthday tomorrow and happily it was Mother’s day too. I wanted that day to be a happy day with no harsh word spoken to her. Let me confess that somedays when he was cruel to my mom I wished in my hate that he were dead.
The next day at the school I was standing alone not playing with my classmates thinking about my mom. I wished to buy her a gift for her but had no money. Someone ran her hand on my head from behind and I turned to see Swarna madam smiling at me.” Why are you not playing with others? Why the sad face?” she asked.
 Did I tell you that I love my teacher Swarna madam? She knows about my family as I confide in her when things became worse at home.
“Ma’am, today is my mom’s birthday and happens to be Mother’s day too. I have nothing to gift her but I want it to be a happy one for her free from the daily scolding and beating. I shudder at the thought of a drunken monster coming home in the evening and hitting her,” I told her
“No Deepa, you should not speak of your dad like that. I do not like it at all. Did you say today is your mom’s birthday? Do not worry. I hope he comes home sober and is kind to your mom. Meet me before you go home. Hurry now to the class, the bell is ringing.”
When I met her after the evening bell, Swarna madam hugged me and said, “Do not worry. Your dad will nice to your mom. Here is a small bouquet, a token gift from you and me for your mom. Tell her my regards and good wishes.”
It was only 6. 30pm.The house was clean and the air was filled with fragrance from the incense stick lighted in the puja place. There was smell of elaichi and saffron from the kheer she had prepared. Mom looked charming in her silk sari. My dad was not expected before 7pm. Still my mom was pacing to and fro to the front door looking for him.
 It was then I heard a gentle tap on the door. Who could be at this hour, I wondered. My mom hastened to open the door as was her wont. Her face beamed as dad entered singing ‘Happy birthday’ tune much to her delight and surprise. He was followed by a person of his age in police uniform. “Meet my college mate Asokan who I learnt today is the Inspector of police in our city. He surprisingly met me at my office when I was about to leave and insisted that he would come with me. I could not shake him off for my usual haunt,” he said with a sheepish smile.
He looked around and asked, “Where is the little girl, Deepa?” I ran up to him from the corner not believing whether it was real.
“Deepa, I haven’t forgotten today is your mom’s birthday. I got the hint from the banner “Happy birthday, my dear mom’ you had stuck at the dining hall,” he said with a loud guffaw. He proffered the two packets in his hands to mom, one I could see surely contained a cake from the famous bakery’s name on it and the content of other remained a secret.
“Do you want to know how this buddy of mine found me out?” he asked me with a glint in his eyes. It seems his sister is working at your school and got to know from her that I am living here. He even got to know from his sister that today is your mom’s birthday. It seems you are tom tomming every little thing at the house to your teacher.”
“No appa, I do not gossip with anyone. I talk only to my class teacher and answer the questions she asks,” I said.
“Is Swarna your class teacher,” asked dad’s friend. I nodded in affirmative.
 I ran inside in joy to set the table with the cake and the candles. Suddenly the thought of Swarna ma’am telling me once that her brother was in city police occurred to me. I could immediately surmise her effort behind her brother’s surprise meeting my dad unaware till then that he happened to be his college buddy. I brought out the bouquet I had kept hidden to put it on the empty vase setting the mood for celebration of my mom’s birthday and Mother’s day.

Monday, April 23, 2018

A happy compromise

The short form of cricket being the flavour of the season,I am posting an old story on this theme written almost a decade back for readers who had not followed my blog then
The cricket season is in full swing with annual T20 tournament being played across the country drawing everyone to the grounds or the TVs whichever was convenient. The schools were closed for summer vacation. I see daily from the porch of my apartment about a dozen young boys in the age group ranging from nine to fifteen playing cricket in the large vacant space of my housing complex. The sun may be scorching at 40 degrees Celsius but the boys are at the ground by 11am undeterred by the sweltering heat. A few wore over sized county caps while most were bare headed. Only some boys had shoes while the rest played with or without chappals, mostly Hawaii. They played with three stumps of irregular heights on one side and a bamboo stick doing the duty of a stump at the bowler’s end. They used old tennis balls as they had no money to buy a regular cricket ball. There were two pairs of pads with one pair being smaller than the other. The wicket keeper had to be content with torn and frayed gloves. For the timid among the boys, an old hand glove was available but rarely used. None of these deficiencies dampened their soaring spirits or muted their loud appeals during the game.
They adopted a shortened version of T20 format by dividing the number of available boys into three teams and played 6 overs each. They christened themselves with equally high sounding names though they lacked the colourful uniforms or the smiling faces of celebrities to own and patronize the teams. Luckily they had common cheer leaders for all the teams from urchins of less than 7 years with or without shirts aping the lusty movements of the regular cheer leaders we see on the TV. There was the unfortunate incident of one mother pulling away her 5 year old girl from the cheer leaders’ team for what she considered an obscene movement of the child’s posterior.
As I was watching daily from the porch of my apartment, I saw one fat and short boy sitting alone under a tree beside an improvised score board. I have never seen the boy playing on any single day. I called him and asked him his name and why he was not joining others in the fun.
Amidst sobbing he replied, “I am Sumitkumar. I keep asking my friends to include me in any of the teams but they refuse asking me to look after the scoreboard. They keep telling me that I am an owner like Sharukh Khan or Preity Zinta and should stay in the pavilion with dignity as they do.
“This is grossly unfair. Each one of you can take care of the score board by turn. What is this nonsense of you being an owner? Call the boys right now. I will have this matter sorted out,” I said angrily.
“Uncle, it could be because I am a Gujarati boy and my Tamil is not that good,” he added to buttress his case.
I felt it was unfair to exclude a colony boy on silly grounds and called three older boys from among those who were playing.
“Why are you excluding Sumitkumar? I learn he is benched daily. Is it because he is from another part of the country? If there are thirteen players, let one sit out by turn to look after the score board. If you people behave like this, I would see that the ground is not used for playing cricket,” I said in feigned anger

The boys said in chorus, “No Uncle, though a Gujarati he can speak Tamil as fluently as any of us and can even swear in filthy manner. We have not excluded him for his being Gujarati but because he is the owner of all the teams. Owners do not play.”
 I got annoyed and shouted “What rubbish are you saying? What owner? Include him in the game or I will not allow you people to play here anymore.”
The boys pleaded “Uncle, kindly listen to us. The bat, stumps, pads and gloves belong to him. That is why he is the owner.”
I shouted “Are you not ashamed? The boy is giving you all the equipment for you to play with. Without them you cannot play at all. Yet you do not have any sense of gratitude?”
The boys again said in one voice “Uncle, he is not giving them free. He collects a rent of Rs.10 per day. It is actually high  for us but he would not reduce the amount.”
When I looked at Sumit, he hung his head down as if to confirm what was said. “I have considered your points. Henceforth Sumit would collect Rs5 per day and he should be included in one of the teams. Score board would be taken care of one of you by turn. Sumit will arrange to get a good   fourth stump instead of a bamboo stick. Since you are playing with tennis ball, there is no need for batting pads or gloves for batsmen.” I concluded
That compromise left everyone happy including Sumit who  remembered that T6 tournament too had a commercial angle.